So I like to think that people can be artists in lots of different ways. To be an artist, a person needs to display a high level of artistry in a particular area, and that might not necessarily be something that we usually associate with the words "artist" or "artistic." This week's artist I admire falls into that category. She might not consider herself an artist, but based on my definition, she most certainly is. She's been an artist of the highest order in her work as a security guard at NYU. The artist I admire for this week is Vera Perez.
Officer Vera Perez retired this past week from NYU after 27 years of service as a security guard, with 22 of those years being in Pless Hall. My office is located in that building, as is a small black box theatre where we teach and produce plays. Vera worked the late afternoon/evening shift, and she has been at that front desk through it all. Every major weather event, Vera was at her post. Every production we staged and rehearsed in that theatre, Vera was there, graciously allowing us to run over our scheduled time, ribbing us gently when we finally left, but with a twinkle in her eye that let us know that she understood. Vera understood that making theatre takes time and a team effort. She was always part of the team because of that generous spirit of hers, and on top of that, she often came out to support our productions as an audience member.
Vera knew all of the students and all of the students knew her. Her last day happened over Spring Break, as I think she knew it might be easier that way. The students, like all of us, love and respect Vera, because she sends that kind of love and respect out into the world. It was not unusual to see Vera listening carefully to a student in some form of distress and then offering the appropriate and helpful piece of advice to seek out an NYU resource. And it wasn't just students. Vera did that for me and I'm sure many other faculty and staff members as well. She was very kind to both of my partners, and she showed much compassion and care for me when my first partner passed away from cancer. We had only known each a couple of years at that point, but Vera was beyond supportive.
When my colleagues and I had a little send off for Vera last week, it was crystal clear how much of a member of our family she had become. While she is off to new adventures, I sincerely hope that our paths cross again through visits and Facebook and whatever other channels present themselves.
For being a class act from the moment I met her through her last day on the job, for illustrating the artistry of being an amazing security person who can show sensitivity and care while maintaining a safe and secure environment, for understanding how safety and security promote learning, for being part of our artistic team through her generous support, and for being an all around great human being, Vera Perez is the artist I admire this week.
Congratulations, Vera! You will be missed, but we wish you the best of luck with all of your new adventures!